Justin Bieber and Kenan Thompson on 'Saturday Night Live'

Justin Bieber and Kenan Thompson on 'Saturday Night Live'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Justin Bieber

Does the teen pop heartthrob have what it takes to host 'SNL'?

This is going to be terrible. Unless it’s awesome. Then again, it could be mediocre. 

Look, there’s an intense amount of hype about tonight’s Justin Bieber-hosted “Saturday Night Live”. But predicting the overall quality based on any host is a fool’s game. We’ve seen sure-fire selections fizzle under the lights of live television, and those that seemed destined for failure rise up and exceed expectations. The metrics that went into select Bieber himself may be suspect (come on, this is about ratings above all else), but there’s no reason to think this will be any better or worse than anything else we’ve seen thus far this season.
 
Indications that Bieber will or will not be a good host should be evident early on. Does the show bust out a host of other celebrities to surround/protect him? Will Bieber play himself in the majority of the sketches? Will he be OK with putting his carefully calibrated image upon the comedic chopping block? Ultimately, this isn’t really about Bieber being a good host so much as a game one. So long as he’s one or the other, it’s a success for him. The success for “SNL” will be putting forth its first good episode of 2013. That somewhat rests of Bieber’s shoulders, but more on the strength of the sketches themselves.
 
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<p>Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'The Poet's Fire'

Amidst flashbacks, things get tense for the kidnapping trio
This is such a traumatic show.
 
Tonight's episode features a sexual-assault-turned-kidnapping, a suicide by gauze, three murders, oh and the continued presence of a killer cult that seems to worship death. Awesome! Ginger, get the popcorn.
 
One of the most intriguing elements of "The Following" is its pacing. This is a show that feels like a movie thriller. Twists and turns happen so fast that you get the idea the writers absolutely do know where this sick game is ending. That's rare enough, on network television, that seeing it play out is engaging. It's thrilling and horrifying at every turn, and even if those thrills aren't the most cerebral, I find myself strangely enthralled by what I'm watching.
 
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<p>Bobby Moynihan and Adam Levine</p>

Bobby Moynihan and Adam Levine

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Adam Levine And Kendrick Lamar

How did the Maroon 5 singer/"The Voice" coach fare in sketch comedy?

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night! Also live from New York? Me! I’m here working on some upcoming projects, but I’m still reporting for duty (albeit with frigid fingers) here in the City That Never Sleeps. On deck tonight: host Adam “Moves Like Jagger” Levine and musical guest Kendrick Lamar. Levine was a semi-controversial choice as host in some circles, but if Bruno Mars taught us anything this year, it’s that someone used to performing in front of live audiences often is a great choice to host “SNL”. Levine’s musical persona is fairly cocky, so let’s see how much he pokes fun at himself tonight. My expectations aren’t terrifically on that front, but who knows? (My expectations for at least two of the three other coaches from “The Voice” to appear tonight? Exponentially higher.)

 
Since I’m not at home, we’ll forgo the liveblog in favor of a running diary posted once the episode ends. But as always, I’ll be offering up grades for each segment that will be used against me in a court of law at a date to be named later.
 
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Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Lawrence

Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Lawrence

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Jennifer Lawrence and The Lumineers

What will be deadlier: the arena from "The Hunger Games" or Studio 8H?

After over a month off, “Saturday Night Live” is back with recent Golden Globes winner Jennifer Lawrence as 2013’s first host. That month hopefully recharged the batteries of all involved in this show. In greater likelihood, it gave the writers the opportunity to craft the longest version of “The Californians” in history. Along for the ride tonight is musical act The Lumineers, whose song “Ho Hey” I heard no less than five times in my car today. It’s possible that I’ve been incepted by the neo-folk pop music scene, is all I’m saying.

Let’s keep track of that throughout tonight’s proceedings. As always, I’ll be live blogging the show, giving grades to each individual sketch along the way. As always, you’ll take any difference of opinion from your own as a slight that can be only answered via a pistol duel at dawn. Why should 2013 be any different from 2012?
 
Come back starting at 11:30 p.m. EST, and we’ll get this party started.
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Joshua Jackson in tonight's "Fringe"

Joshua Jackson in tonight's "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'Liberty'/'An Enemy Of Fate'

The show wraps up its five-year run.

“It’s not about fate…it’s about changing fate. It’s about hope. And protecting our children.” September, to Walter Bishop

Here we are, at the end of the “Fringe” journey. It started with a mysterious incident on a plane and ended with a white tulip addressed to Peter Bishop. In between were some of the loveliest, most evocative, most affecting (as well as effective) genre storytelling on television in recent memory. It was far from a perfect show, as even the hardiest of fans would agree. But when it worked, it worked like gangbusters, and there was nothing else like it. Considering how downright strange, how openly earnest, and how narratively demanding it was, it’s no hyperbole to say that television as a whole was better for having “Fringe” in its ecosphere.
 
But it’s unfortunately also not hyperbole to say that tonight’s final two episodes proved this fifth and final season to be a huge misstep.
 
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Peter and Walter in this week's "Fringe".

Peter and Walter in this week's "Fringe".

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'This Boy Must Live'

The table is set for the series finale.

 

If one cannot remember a life lived, does that life matter at all?
 
That’s not merely a fundamental philosophical problem that has haunted humanity for thousands of years. It’s also the core question for the last few seasons of “Fringe”. The schism that formed in the aftermath of Peter stepping into the Doomsday Device cleaved fandom in two. Some argued that the characters that developed in the new reality were closely enough aligned with the original iterations that the discrepancies actually gave depth to the show’s analysis of human behavior. Others felt their connections to those onscreen severed, with all new work needed to find a way to emotionally bond with these new versions. While I fall on the side of the latter group, neither side is “right” or “wrong”. There are never such clearly shaded sides when it comes to questions such as the ones that “Fringe”, at its best, puts forth.
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"Donald, can you see me? Can you feel me near you?"

"Donald, can you see me? Can you feel me near you?"

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'Anomaly XB-6783746'

The show says goodbye to one character and hello, improbably, to another.

One thing that’s arisen in this final season of “Fringe” as a topic of debate is just how much needs to actually unfold onscreen to engage audiences on either a practical or emotional level. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here, like anything else in a creative sphere. Through both conscious choice and external limitations, the show has skipped over large chunks of its overall storyline in order to get to its finish line. And the closer we get, the more than those gaps seem to be accentuated. “Anomaly XB-6783746” was an episode that nearly ground the season’s momentum to a halt only to kick things into major overdrive in the final moments. (I may need to adjust my neck from the whiplash, and not because it allows more sound waves to enter my ears.) To those still buying what the show is selling, filling in those gaps tonight might have been thrilling. To those less engaged with the show, filling them in might have been frustrating.

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The final three contestants of "The Voice". Oh, and Carson Daly.

The final three contestants of "The Voice". Oh, and Carson Daly.

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Tuesday - Top 3 Results

Who will be crowned the winner in tonight's final episode?

We’re here at the end of the road for this cycle of “The Voice”. NBC looked into it, but it couldn’t find a way to extend the season any further. (Lord knows the one-hour repeat hour before the finale proper demonstrates how badly this network is milking this franchise.) But that’s all for the best, as the outcome tonight looks pretty much preordained. I went on record saying this last night, but I’ll once again reiterate that it’s Cassadee Pope’s contest to lose at this point. Assuming they stagger the eliminations, we should have Pope and Terry McDermott standing alone in the final moments before the champion is crowned.

But who knows? That’s why we have to watch the show and find out how close those predictions match reality. All we knows is that tonight’s 2-hour finale will feature a slew of performances by the final three contestants, the coaches, and a parade of other artists taking advantage of the spotlight in order to spike record sales before the holidays are over. Even though we have 120 minutes to get through, I’ll be sparing in tonight’s liveblog when discussing things non-show related. I’m sure you’re dying to hear my thoughts about The Killers’ latest single, but there’s a top-notch team of music critics here at HitFix that can fill that role nicely.
 
Let’s get the final running diary of the Fall underway!

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Nicholas David's fiery performance tonight on "The Voice".

Nicholas David's fiery performance tonight on "The Voice".

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - Top 3 Perform

The last three contestants make their final case to the voting public.
Partially because high beings are potentially punishing us, but primarily because NBC wants to milk ratings as long as humanly possible, we have three and a half more hours of “The Voice” to get through before crowning a winner. Look for a big bag of delaying tricks to be unleashed over the night two nights: Guest performers! Old contestants! Casts of upcoming NBC shows! A lengthy debate over the merits of the “Homeland” finale between Christina Aguilera and her fan! Anything’s possible, except a tight, focused end to this season.
 
Going into tonight, it seems like Cassadee Pope is in the driver’s seat, with Nicholas David and Terry McDermott trying to play catch-up. That makes the song choices tonight key. All Cassadee has to do is “not screw up tremendously” and it seems like she’s the one to beat. But David and McDermott have pulled off surprising performances all season, so if they find just the right interpretation of just the right song, there’s certainly a chance for an upset tomorrow night.
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Martin Short and Paul McCartney on the 'Saturday Night Live' set.

Martin Short and Paul McCartney on the 'Saturday Night Live' set.

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Martin Short And Paul McCartney

How did the 'SNL' vet and the legendary rocker close out 2012?

Tonight’s “Saturday Night Live” host Martin Short is no stranger to the show. After all, he was a big part of the show’s 10th season cast. That cast is unusual in the show’s history: Made up of many seasoned comic veterans brought in by then-producer Dick Ebersol after the departure of Eddie Murphy led to a domino effect of other repertory players either leaving or being fired, it was as much a presence in the writer’s room as onscreen. As such, Short (alongside other cast members such as Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest) had tremendous power to help shape what they did each Saturday night. A lot of those elements were pre-produced, which gives that tenth season something in common with the current thirty-eighth installment. So it makes a sort of sense to have Short join this particular cast on this particular night. That’s a bit of a stretch, to be sure. But it’s something that also feels right as I look at the ratio of live-to-taped segments then compared with now.

Because of Short’s history with the show, combined with tonight being the Christmas episode, and further combined with the presence of musical guest Paul McCartney, and one can well assume many surprises are in store for tonight’s installment. A note about such surprises: because I’m liveblogging this episode tonight, I’m going to refrain from speculating about rumors swirling around Al Gore’s interwebs at the outset here. There’s one particularly juicy one that is intriguing not just because of the sketch in question, but what that sketch’s presence may mean for the immediate future of the program as a whole.
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